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Uganda’s Best Birding Safari Destination To Spot a Shoebill

Are you on an adventure holiday in Uganda? Or you’re just resting at your hotel in Uganda Kampala or Entebbe?  Don’t be bored out there, here is short Uganda birding safari that will definitely keep you in motion and excited. This Uganda birding safari takes us to Mabamba swamp for a thrilling encounter with the birds in the wild. Mabamba swamp can be accessed by both road and boat across Lake Victoria. Mabamba swamp is a famous Uganda tour birding destination.

Mabamba is an extensive swampland that stretches through a long narrow bay, covered with papyrus towards the western main body of Lake Victoria in Mpigi District. This swamp is vulnerable yet it habits several bird categories, globally threatened species and Lake Victoria Basin biome species. It is, in fact, one of the most sought Uganda birding safari destinations in Uganda.  It is one of the best marshy areas along the Northern shores of Lake Victoria best for bird enthusiasts interested in bird watching safaris in Uganda.

Unlike the past year when people didn’t know much about this swamp, today Mabamba bay has grown into one of the most interesting and spectacular sites for birding safaris in Uganda and is one of the wetlands of International Importance in Africa. The Shoebill feeds primarily on Lungfish (Protopterus aethipicus), which is also cherished by the local community too. Shoebills are regularly recorded in pairs or in threes in this wetland at Nakowogo, about 2 km North-East of Mabamba Bay.

Apart from Murchison Falls National Park, Mabamba swamp is one of the Uganda birding tour destinations where a tourist on a Uganda safari/ Uganda tour can sight the elusive Shoebill stork. Mabamba is rated the best in Africa and or the whole world where the shoebill stork can be spotted at any one time of the day in its natural habitat.

Mabamba is also one of the strongholds for the migrant Blue Swallow with over 100 individuals recorded there every year. Mabamba has boosts of over 260 species with one day’s record of about 157 species. Mabamba also hosts four globally threatened species and other species of regional significance, including the Papyrus Gonolek, White-Winged Warbler Pallid Harrier, and the Blue Swallow.

During the time of bird migration, it is also confirmed that mabamba hosts flocks of other species especially migrants such as White-Winged Black Terns Gull-Billed Terns, and Whiskered Terns. Other interesting species found in the marshland include good numbers of Spur-Winged, Goliath Herons, Pygmy Geese, Malachite Kingfisher, Papyrus Canary, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Carruther’s Cisticola and a number of other birds. Five Lake Biome species have also been recorded here.

1 Day Bird watching tour to Mabamba swamp

This is a whole day birding experience starting and ending in Kampala/Entebbe. A 1-day bird watching tour to Mabamba takes one for a whole day at the shores of Lake Victoria sighting the rare bird species in the wetland marshes. It is the best way of doing a Uganda bird watching tour just a few kilometres outside Kampala city.

Mabamba bay is an expanse wetland marsh at the edge of Lake Victoria that stretches through along narrow bay fringed with papyrus. The swamp is dominated by Cyperus papyrus and Miscanthus species though there is a narrow channel of open water and a patch of Nymphea caerulea water lily.

Birding in Mabamba swamp is rewarding since it is as an Important Bird Area and the closest spot to sight a shoebill in Kampala. The area covered by the wetland is a habitat to over 300 bird species including elusive, migratory and water birds.

Bird species in Mabamba swamp

On a 1-day bird watching tour in Mabamba, there all chances for a Uganda birding safari tourist to sight birds like; Swamp Flycatcher, African Water Rail, African Purple Swamp-hen, Common Moorhen, African Jacana, Lesser Jacana, African Pygmy Goose, White-faced Whistling-duck, Rufous-bellied and Purple Heron, Winding Cisticola, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Goliath Heron, Black Crake, African Marsh Harrier, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, Yellow-billed Duck, Common Waxbill, Blue-headed Cuckoo, Intermediate Egret, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Long-toed Lapwing, Osprey, Red-billed Fire-finch and African Pied Wagtail.

Migrant bird species that can be sighted include the Blue Swallow, Gull-billed Tern and White-winged Tern. The Papyrus Gonolek and Papyrus Yellow Warbler are the papyrus restricted species that can be seen.

Detailed Itinerary of the 1-day bird watching tour to Mabamba swamp

The professional driver-guide picks you up from your place of residence in Kampala after an early breakfast.

The drive to Mabamba swamp is 58.1km west of Kampala covering a drive time of 1h 39min via Masaka road. Along the road, you will sight different bird species. When you reach Mabamba, you take a canoe with an experienced paddler and your guide through the narrow channels in search of the beautifully feathered birds. The shoebill is best seen in the morning when it’s trying to find its prey (mudfish).

The day ends by 6:00 pm as you drive back to Kampala.

What to carry for a 1-day bird watching tour to Mabamba swamp

  • Packed lunch
  • A pair of binoculars
  • Good quality bird watching cameras
  • Bird guide book

The best way to have a memorable bird watching tour in Mabamba swamp is by planning to have a trip with other passionate birders planned by a trusted Uganda bird watching tour operator. Spend just a single day and you will learn to appreciate what nature holds especially the beautiful feathered species.

Uganda birding safari packages

1 Day Mabamba swamp excursion
7 Days Birding safari in Uganda
8 Days Uganda Birding safari
14 Days Uganda gorilla trek & birding safari
15 Days Uganda birding tour
19 Days Uganda birding watching safari 
21 Days Birding safari in Uganda Africa

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